Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city and FEMA are discussing the possibility of buying out properties that have flooded repeatedly inside floodplains.
Harvey’s damage was devastating for the tens of thousands of families hit by the storm, but especially for people whose homes and apartments have flooded before. One apartment complex just across the street from Brays Bayou in Meyerland that flooded in 2016 saw dozens of units impacted.
That’s the situation resident Angela McFarland described to KHOU on Wednesday afternoon. Her ground-floor apartment took on several feet of water. She said she was rescued by boat after clinging for life on top of a table in the laundromat, and was left with just the clothes on her back.
On Sept. 2, she and other residents got a letter telling her to be out in five days, by Thursday, so the complex could begin remediation.
“There’s a lot of people that … could have lost their life, so I don’t think they should have anybody by this bayou,” said McFarland. “No one.”
Now, while McFarland figures out her future, the mayor and FEMA are working on the future of similar properties inside the floodplain.
“One of the reasons why those apartment units keep being rehabbed is because there’s not sufficient housing availability, I mean, affordable housing,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “So, you have to increase your supply in order for people to transition from one unit to another.”
The mayor said the shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown will probably close next week.
Turner is urging any complex owners with vacant units to let flooded residents move there temporarily. However, he says whatever terms are spelled out in the lease are ultimately a legally-binding contract.